The Huron Valley Education Association (HVEA) membership ratified a four-year labor agreement with the Huron Valley School District (HVS), according to a Monday, May 23 announcement.
In a 57 percent to 43 percent vote, the union members gave their blessing to a contract that offers HVEA members stability, but makes broad changes to benefits and salaries.
“Our staff is worth much more than we can afford to pay them,” said Huron Valley Superintendent Jackie Johnston. “Unfortunately, these are difficult times in our community, as well as in public education. We are very thankful for the personal sacrifice the HVEA members took on behalf of our students.”
The four-year agreement runs from June 20, 2011 to Aug. 20, 2015.
“The teachers did what they had to make sure our district is healthy over the next four years, but the cuts and concessions are very painful,” said HVEA President Mike MacGregor.
Key components of the agreement include:
• Establishing the school calendar for the next four years;
• A salary reduction of 6 to 8 percent;
• Two paid furlough days for each year of the contract. Teachers were furloughed for two days without pay under the previous contract.
• Restoring the previous 50 percent reductions in step wage payments, bringing those payments back to their full amount;
• Reducing the number of student attendance days from 178 to 175 per academic year, and employee days worked from 183 to 180 in 2011-12 and 2012-13 as an additional cost savings; and
• Developing and implementing teacher evaluation tools.
Savings in the first year of the contract are estimated at $3.6 million, a substantial amount in the wake of massive deficits predicted over the next few years.
For the school district’s Fiscal Year 2011-12, which begins July 1, the district anticipates a $12.9 million deficit and could face a deficit as high as $15 million for 2012-13.
The new labor agreement also calls for the creation of an insurance committee comprised of HVEA and district representatives as a means of controlling health insurance costs.
Another provision states that all district professional and administrative groups will take proportionate cuts in compensation. In tandem, if there is any increase in compensation among district professional groups, HVEA will receive the same.
“It’s like we’re tying rafts together,” MacGregor said.
A final provision states that the school district’s fund balance must decrease in each year of the agreement.
“The teachers needed that because we don’t want to get into the situation to make concessions and still add to the fund balance,” MacGregor said.
HVEA members will also be reviewing annual audits and looking at revenues and expenditures, along with any cash windfalls.
“As flexible as the agreement is, there’s a lot of room for evolution,” MacGregor said. “Our relationship with the district has become very constructive. The agreement underscores the trust we have in each other.”